The Saddle Shack Brings Custom Leather Items Online
Sharri Crowley and Steve Close are the owners of The Saddle Shack, a custom leather shop based in Mount Forest, Ontario. Each leather piece is handcrafted on-site. While their main focus is Western horse tack, saddle repairs and restorations, they also design and make accessories for hunting, motorcycles, and musicians.
“Our custom belts are very popular and last for years, not months!”
The Saddle Shack sponsors and attends horse shows throughout Ontario and their products have even been used on TV in shows such as Murdock Mysteries.
The business started in a small spare room in their home. Steve and Sharri have always appreciated a well-trained horse and the traditional vaquero way of doing things. They strive to ensure every item that leaves the shop will complement both the horse and its rider and will not let you down when situations go sideways.
Through word-of-mouth and attending horse shows, the business has grown and moved from the spare room into its own shop. Even though the shop has moved, they continue to make products by hand using the best raw materials they can purchase. The Saddle Shack is committed to making items that are high-quality, functional, and beautiful.
To expand their reach, Sharri and Steve decided to start an online store with the help of the ShopHERE powered by Google program. With so many options for website platforms, they found the program alleviated the stress of picking something that would work best for their business by pairing them with an eCommerce Coordinator to bounce ideas with.
“Our coordinator listened to what we wanted our website to be. We are a custom shop, we wanted a visual site that captured our potential clients eye.”
The ShopHERE program was 4-6 weeks of goal-oriented action that kept the process on track. Steve and Sharri have received positive feedback from their community on the look and feel of their new online store.
They found the process straightforward with the guidance of their eCommerce Coordinator and as the website was ready to launch, Sharri and Steve were shown the ropes. Learning how to input new information from the coordinator allows them to keep their website up to date as their business evolves.
“The ShopHERE program has been what we needed to take the next step in growing our business. The program has so many learning opportunities for the small business owner, I continue to watch videos & learn new things.”
The most valuable information they gained from the program was to use high quality pictures. With customers unable to touch and feel products when shopping online, having photographs that capture the quality of the product was key.
Sharri and Steve also found the marketing webinars offered by the ShopHERE program helpful to learn about marketing their new store online.
“The key is to be consistent, try to explore the resources that are available & network!”
While their biggest opportunity is to attract more customers online, it is a challenge to get noticed in a sea of businesses and be considered authentic and trustworthy. This made the marketing webinars integral. Learning about things like hashtags and using video to attract customers to your business gives them the knowledge they need to thrive.
The Saddle Shack plans to explore advertising in the next few months and is working on becoming more familiar with SEO and keywords.
“I believe the more I use the site & become familiar with the tools, it will be easier.”
If you’re looking for handcrafted leather pieces, be sure to check out Sharri and Steve’s high quality pieces at www.thesaddleshack-sc.com.
If you’re looking to start your own online store for your small business, you can sign up for the ShopHERE program here.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.
Continued investment from the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT) has allowed the ongoing expansion the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital across Ontario.